A koala was left dying in the middle of a Victorian road on Monday night for at least 25 minutes, with multiple motorists refusing to stop.
More than a dozen cars passed the large male who was unable to move after being hit by a car on the Hamilton-Port Fairy Road in Byaduk, in the state’s western district.
Rescuer Janet Murray snapped a series of photos as she ran towards the animal, still hoping he could be saved. But it quickly became clear he was dying. A large vehicle had passed over, leaving an imprint on his back, crushing his spine and leaving his back legs paralysed.
“One of his legs was twisted, you can see it's swollen in that photo,” she said. “He definitely had internal injuries, he was a mess.”
When the koala injury was phoned in, the caller refused to move the animal from the road or stay with it. “I begged him, I said, please can you go back. He said, Nup.”
The koala was silent as Janet approached him, but he let out a scream when she picked him up. After Ms Murray shared details of her story to her Blessings from the Bush social media page, people across the country seemed shocked the koala had been left to die. It later had to be euthanised due to the extent of its injuries.
"He looks so confused and frightened," one person wrote. "This is so horrible! Humans, what is wrong with you?," someone else added. Another person called the motorists who refused to stop "disgraceful".
Motorists refusing to stop and help injured wildlife
Having attended to around 100 koalas since Christmas, Ms Murray told Yahoo News Australia she is exhausted. The veteran rescuer believes motorists in the area are increasingly refusing to stop and help wildlife. “With koalas definitely. Nobody ever stops for kangaroos or wallabies either.”
The wider Portland area is one of the few regions in Australia where koalas are considered abundant. With large numbers inhabiting the region’s eucalypt timber plantations, many locals see them as a pest. “You’ve got people who will aim for them,” Ms Murray said. “A lot of people just hit them in their LandCruisers on purpose.”
Two weeks ago, Janet was called at midnight to Tyrendarra after a mother and joey were hit. Two motorists managed to carry the baby to safety, but they were unable to negotiate traffic on the busy road and get to the mother. “Cars just kept driving over the back of her,” Janet said. “The baby had a broken jaw and could barely breathe, I had to euthanise her too.”
Wherever wildlife exists in abundance, anecdotally it appears drivers are desensitised to its welfare. In cities birds are often left for dead on roadsides after vehicle strikes, while north of Melbourne a kangaroo joey was struck and left dying in the middle of the road in February. Rescuers on the Gold Coast have also reported motorists say they are too busy to wait with injured animals.
In the event of a wildlife collision, Wildlife Victoria asks motorists to pull over if it’s safe to do so. If the animal is deceased, taking it off the road will prevent scavengers being hit while feeding on it. In the case of a wildlife emergency they can be contacted on 03 8400 7300.
Do you have a story tip? Email: email@example.com.